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Best Wagner Ring in Terms of Audio?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

I've yet to hear the opera and it's certainly no small investment getting any of the sets. I know many of the older ones get consistent praise like Krauss, Kielberth, Furtwangler, etc. but I worry about the audio. Likewise, the only two on SACD haven't gotten great reviews. I guess I'm looking for a compromise, a great ring recording with great sound. I've been thinking maybe Janowski or Haitink. Any advice?

post #2 of 11

Janowski is horrible, with very little outstanding points. Haitink isn't horrible but is ruined by a horrible Bruennhilde, it's still not bad with some good points but you can do better.




This Barenboim Ring is easily the best Ring as far as sound quality goes, if you can stand the stage sound, and argubly the best Ring you can get. Period. It has a very strong cast and Barenboim is one of the best conductors when it comes to Wagner. But then again if you are new to the Ring I think you are better off getting the DVD instead, just for the subtitles and solid staging:




The full Ring set is not available in Amazon but you can get each seperately.


(By the way, if anyone recommends you to get the Levine Ring DVD don't listen to him, cause that Ring is weak both staging wise and musically.)


Otherwise the Karajan Ring has very good sound quality and is not a bad choice either. The Bohm Ring's sound quality isn't as good but it's still not bad either. The Solti Ring isn't too bad as far as sound quality goes too but it's overrated and I highly recommend you not to get it.

Edited by scytheavatar - 11/11/10 at 2:47am
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 

^ Thanks for the recs. The only reason I'd hesitate to get a DVD is because my audio system is infinite times better than my A/V system, though I've been considering upgrading the latter to get something that's at least somewhat closer in quality. I hadn't considered Barenboim, but your rec is quite persuasive.

post #4 of 11
I just got Mehta's Valencia Ring on bluray and it's totally changed the way I think about recommending first Rings. It is the most amazing Ring overall that I've experienced... The conducting is superb, the singing is great without a single clunkier in the cast, and the staging made me totally rethink how Wagner can be presented. If you're looking for sound quality, there really isn't any other choice. The 7:1 sound on this set is like being in the best seat in the house. I never would have believed Mehta would be capable of pulling this off... In fact I wouldn't have believed that a recent Ring could compete with the ones from the past. But after hearing a couple dozen Ring cycles and seeing the Ring live, I have to say that the Valencia Ring is the best all around experience I've ever had with Wagner. Spectacular!
Edited by bigshot - 11/11/10 at 10:50am
post #5 of 11
Commenting on previous recommendations... Barenboim is better heard than seen. The laser light show staging is dull on video. Boulez's staging is much better, but neither holds a candle to Mehta's Valencia. Janowski's Siegfried is very good. Karajan has a good Das Rheingold, but his Brunnhilde screeches too much for me. Levine is to be avoided. Haitink isn't bad but it's pretty lifeless. Not good in opera that goes on for 17 hours.

The best Rings on CD are Solti, Bohm and Barenboim (in that order). But I'm going to say it... Gasp! Overall Mehta tops them all.
Edited by bigshot - 11/11/10 at 10:49am
post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 

^ I see the Mehta Ring on blu-ray is coming out in a set soon. That's awfully tempting, I just wish I could afford to upgrade my A/V system right now. I guess I'll narrow my first choices to Solti, Bohm, or  Barenboim.

post #7 of 11



Maybe this will help you, I agree mostly with the comments expect that I do feel that the cast of Karajan's Ring is better than what many people give it credit for, despite not being perfect. Between Karajan/Solti/Bohm I'll recommend the Karajan.

post #8 of 11
Solti is the default choice for best first Ring. It's got great singing and conducting across the board and John Culshaw's production brings the drama to life with a vivid soundstage and sound effects. You won't have any regrets with Solti. Every Wagnerphile has that set.
post #9 of 11

I believe I have said this before in another thread: I strongly believe that any opera, and particularly Wagner operas, needs to be seen first to be fully appreciated.

Short of traveling to Bayreuth or San Francisco to see the cycle live next  summer (which would really be the thing to do), I think your first ring should be on DVD. And BTW the Valencia Ring bigshot  recommended  (and that the Fanfare reviewers raved about and added to their 2010 "Want Lists" http://www.fanfaremag.com/content/view/40833/10245/) is also available on DVD http://www.amazon.com/Das-Rheingold-Zubin-Mehta/dp/B002S8ON64/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1289586038&sr=8-5

post #10 of 11

i am very interested in this ring - a recent live recording from bayreuth.



post #11 of 11
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post

Solti is the default choice for best first Ring. It's got great singing and conducting across the board and John Culshaw's production brings the drama to life with a vivid soundstage and sound effects. You won't have any regrets with Solti. Every Wagnerphile has that set.

As much as some of us love to hate Solti, the conventional wisdom is basically correct (though the Karajan is my guilty pleasure). I might recommend the Böhm set (the stereo audio isn't studio, and the brass is mic-ed too closely, but it's much, much finer conducting alongside the same cast), and the 1955 Joseph Keilberth (captured in amazingly clear stereo for the time, and featuring one of the best casts ever assembled). A veteran of these three recordings probably knows enough of the Wagner discography to make his or her own way from there :P

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